Since my last post, I've been able to synthesize much of the information I've compiled in order to create a narrative of the roots of the riots. It's a satisfying feeling to learn and to subsequently produce. I was also fortunate enough to conduct an interview with Carl Poplar at his office in Cherry Hill, NJ. The first thing the 70 year old attorney, who characterizes himself as a "lawyer, a gymnast, and a Jew," said when I promptly stood up to greet him was "relax". I took his advice and the rest of our conversation went smoothly. Carl was the attorney who represented the family of Horacio Jimenez, the Puerto Rican man who was beat to a coma and, ultimately, died. Back then, he was a youthful, up and coming, attorney working in legal services. "I had wall to wall people with no money...I was a busy young guy." With serene posture, Carl related the events, as he recalled them, in a very orderly manner from the night he walked out of his office and knew something was wrong, to the negotiations regarding the suspensions of the two officers, which he attended. One of the interesting stories Carl told me dealt with the decision to keep Jimenez on life support in order to keep the riots from escalating. It's difficult to put yourself in the position to ask a mother whose just lost her son to think of the greater good, but she did. The complexity of these riots are augmented when you realize how many angles are involved. The more I learn, the more remarkable the story becomes.
My last stop of the week was the Camden Historical Society. I couldn't have been more happy with my trip there. Not only did I find a immense plethora of information on Camden including census tracts, manufacturing statistics, maps, and other forms of city data but I was also taken back by how much information Howard Gillette, a retired history professor at Rutgers, left from his own research. The historical society has many Special Collections. Among them is the Gillette Collection which features twelve full boxes on research data he's collected over the years. Not only was this helpful, but it was also quite inspiring for me. The dedication Mr. Gillette put forth in his work truly shows his passion for history. Someday I hope to be able to do the same: to contribute to my field by doing what I love, to dedicate myself to fulfilling my dreams, and to spark a fire in the heart of at least one person. The only thing that is certain at this point is that there will be no rest for me until I achieve that dream.